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Fiction for Men

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Men, do I have a book for you. I read about it somewhere -- can't remember where -- a couple months ago and put a hold on it at the library, which listed it as an "in process" item, or an item that was on order.

It arrived a day before the book was nominated for the Booker Prize. It's called The Sisters Brothers, and although I'm only about 50 pages into it, I wanted to plug the novel here and say that, although "Booker Prize" might call to mind dense novels that that take several minutes per page to absorb, The Sisters Brothers, authored by Patrick deWitt, is an easy read.

I'm sure it rewards close scrutiny; slow down with it and savor every sentence if you'd like. But I find myself quickly knocking out small chunks of the book, which is conveniently divided into very short chapters -- so far. That makes it an easy book to enter into and exit out of, and that, when you're just grabbing a few minutes to read before bedtime, makes the book very attractive.

I'm about 70 pages into a Theolonius Monk biography I'm enjoying, but each page of which takes me about four times as long to read as does a page of The Sisters Brothers. So I've found myself, the past few days, reaching for deWitt's book and letting the Monk bio wait.

Here's Ron Charles' review of The Sisters Brothers.

Following up to highlight Tom Perotta's pick for favorite book of 2011:

Tom Perrotta, author of “The Leftovers” (St. Martin’s)

“The Sisters Brothers,” by Patrick deWitt (Ecco)

A novel that’s really stuck in my mind this year is “The Sisters Brothers” by Patrick deWitt. It’s an odd gem, a darkly funny picaresque set during the Gold Rush that has one of most engaging and thoughtful narrators I’ve come across in a long time. The fact that this narrator happens to be a hired killer — slightly less terrifying than his psychopathic brother — somehow only adds to the pathos and humor of his dilemma. The novel belongs to the great tradition of subversive westerns — “Little Big Man,” “True Grit,” “No Country for Old Men” – but deWitt has a deadpan comic voice and a sneaky philosophical bent that’s all his own.

 

So, this book is available for $1.99 for the Nook and Kindle.

 

Do the right thing, people. 

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“The Sisters Brothers,” by Patrick deWitt (Ecco)

A novel that’s really stuck in my mind this year is “The Sisters Brothers” by Patrick deWitt. It’s an odd gem, a darkly funny picaresque set during the Gold Rush that has one of most engaging and thoughtful narrators I’ve come across in a long time. The fact that this narrator happens to be a hired killer — slightly less terrifying than his psychopathic brother — somehow only adds to the pathos and humor of his dilemma. The novel belongs to the great tradition of subversive westerns — “Little Big Man,” “True Grit,” “No Country for Old Men” – but deWitt has a deadpan comic voice and a sneaky philosophical bent that’s all his own.

So, this book is available for $1.99 for the Nook and Kindle.

 

Do the right thing, people.

I just acquired it (a hardback printed copy, not on Nook or Kindle). I'll probably be able to read it this weekend. Thanks for promoting this. It sounds like fun.

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I read it.  I'd give it a 3 out of 5.  (Or, in other terms, I'd rate deWitt's writing somewhere above Louis L'Amour but still below Charles Portis or Ron Hansen.)  Definitely enjoyable and I'm happy to own my own copy.  With two brothers of my own, I could relate to some of Eli's attitudes and emotions about his brother.  And the relationship between the two of them is described quite well.  Some of the arguments they get into makes you strongly suspect that deWitt has at least one brother of his own.  It has enough comedy in it to prevent it from being too dark.  But it's also too serious to just be a comedy.  When they make this into a film, they need to not make it only as a comedy.

 

It's strange how strongly pop culture can affect how you imagine what you read.  Unfortunately, I'll never know what it would be like to have read this without knowing that John C. Reilly is already making plans to star in and make this into a film.  Because I heard that before I read the book, my imagination was stuck from the very beginning imagining Reilly as Eli.  And not only that, but I've heard so many "lives of the cowboys" segments from A Prairie Home Companion for so many years that both Dusty and Lefty kept intruding into my imagining of Eli and Charlie.  The similarities were too close at a couple moments in the book that I couldn't shake the association off.  So I have no way of knowing if I would have liked the book more or less without those preconceived ideas of what the Sisters brothers sounded like.

 

It was quite enjoyable though.  Thanks for the recommendation.

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I'm so glad you read it, Jeremy. I had hoped you'd like it more, of course, but I appreciate the way you can plow through a book in a couple of days and, without complaint, comment and move on to the next book. I need to "take a page" from your reading habits and make them my own. A book takes long enough for me to get through that, when it doesn't quite pan out, I end up feeling cheated of time and effort. 

 

I never listened to Prairie Home Companion growing up (still don't, and I've often wondered why it is that I never got into that show), so I didn't bring those preconceptions to the story. Nor did I know about

the planned film version

, although I'm not sure why that's in spoiler tags. Thanks for the tip!

 

I'd promise to re-read the novel, but my building "stack" of ebooks is calling. Maybe I should buy this novel again in e-form just to have it at hand every time I power up my ereader. 

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Ron Charles points out that 9 of 10 books on the National Book Awards nonfiction longlist are by men.

 

In February, the National Book Foundation, which administers these annual awards, published a study showing that over the past 60 years, the number of women NBA finalists and winners has steadily increased every decade until they overtook men in the 2010s. Unfortunately, today’s nonfiction longlist — what we might call the Y-list — looks like a return to the good old days. ...

 

The judges for this year’s NBA Nonfiction Prize are Robert Atwan, Gretel Ehrlich, Tom Reiss, Ruth J. Simmons and Alan Taylor.

Edited by Christian

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